Citizen Action Weekly: There is no pandemic plan for Wisconsin!

Citizen Action Weekly: There is no pandemic plan for Wisconsin!

Friday, May 15th

Supreme Court Shifts Life & Death Responsibility for Pandemic onto Legislature

What the state now must do to save lives and successfully open the economy is clear: will the GOP Legislature start doing its job?

GOP legislative leaders may think they won a victory this Wednesday in their campaign to strip powers from Governor Evers, but they have actually shifted an immense burden of moral responsibility to themselves. The moral of the story for one Aesop’s fables encapsulates the moment: Be careful what you wish for, less it comes true.

The scientific consensus is overwhelming on how to best save lives, and restore the level of public confidence necessary to safely re-open the economy. Now the leaders of the Legislature have a choice: actually cooperate with Governor Evers to do the hard work of quickly implementing an effective response, or continue their campaign of obstruction and face the moral and political consequences for the human and economic toll.

By their very acts of publicly undermining the Governor’s popular emergency measures, and inducing the Wisconsin Supreme Court majority to render one of the most divisive and nakedly partisan decisions in Wisconsin history, they have made the task harder by prematurely ending state-wide social distancing without any back up plan, and undermining the social unity and commitment to norms necessary to contain a pandemic.

Because the Evers Administration took bold necessary action, and the millions of Wisconsinites who followed the directives voluntarily, no matter what the personal and economic sacrifice, Wisconsin made tremendous progress over the last 6 weeks in reducing the rate of infection. According to the CEO of the Medical College, Wisconsin has the reproduction rate  (the number of additional people each Covid positive person infects) down to 1.0, the minimum for moving to more targeted virus containment strategies. But if the reproduction rate increases even slightly, to 1.1 or higher, the virus will within a few weeks begin spreading out of control.

We are in danger of losing all these hard won gains if the Legislature does not immediately fund, to whatever scale is necessary, a robust targeted containment strategy. There is an overwhelming scientific consensus, being pursued by the most effective pandemic responses around the globe, on what must be done to contain the pandemic and safely re-open the economy. There is no choice between public health and the economy. The economy will not bounce back until Wisconsinites feel safe, regardless of what politicians tell them to do.

  • Fill the containment gap created by the sudden and premature ending of mandated social distancing with a well resourced and targeted approach that is capable of identifying and isolating new pockets of infection as soon as they emerge. This includes:
    • Universal and rapid testing that reaches asymptomatic Wisconsinites and is immediately available in all at risk public and business locations.
    • A massive ramp up in contract tracing which means hiring thousands of new public health workers.
    • A medical surveillance system capable of rapidly intervening and isolating all of the new hotspots identified through testing and contact tracing.
  • Free testing and treatment are a necessity because of cost barriers which are unique to the unique profit-centered American health care system. Without an enforced guarantee of no out of pocket costs, hundreds of thousands of Wisconites will avoid testing and treatment, even if they have COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Reinforce the norm of social distancing in all public interactions. In Wisconsin, there is much damage to repair. The mixed messages and the divide and conquer politics must end. GOP leaders must join Governor Evers in reinforcing this social ethic and dispense with their divisive rhetoric of oppression and liberation. The Supreme Court majority did the opposite in their divisive and dog-whistle racism oral arguments.
  • Create enforceable safety requirements for all workplaces. Workers cannot be forced to choose between their health and their livelihoods. (The WMC’s preferred voluntary standards will not work, and were immediately violated by some taverns the evening of the Supreme Court ruling)

These core elements of effective and effective pandemic containment are not just Citizen Action’s position, this is an overwhelming consensus of public health experts and responsible elected leaders across the globe. Some of these items will cost money, and if the majority of the Legislature will not invest the necessary resources, whatever it takes, the costs of inaction will be astronomical. The stakes could not be higher as Dr. Rick Bright, the former Director of Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority testified in Congress today: “Without clear planning and implementation of the steps that I and other experts have outlined, 2020 will be the darkest winter in modern history.”

Wisconsin has done it before. In 1918, when there were three major parties and as much partisan contention as today, Wisconsinites pulled together to take unified action on the worst pandemic in our history.  “Wisconsin was the only state in the nation to meet the crisis with uniform, statewide measures that were unusual both for their aggressiveness and the public’s willingness to comply with them.”

“We have entered a season of consequences. In a pandemic success depends on elected leaders putting aside the divisions of normal politics and pulling together to take effective and decisive action,” said Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. “The GOP leadership of the Legislature got what it wanted, and stripped the Governor of much of his power to lead in this crisis. The onus of responsibility now falls squarely on their shoulders. It is our hope that they will elevate their leadership to the demands of the challenge we face, and work in concert with Governor Evers to do not what is politically convenient but what is required to save lives.”

See Citizen Action response to Wisconsin Supreme Court decision here.

Citizen Action case for free COVID 19 testing and treatment here.

“Supreme Chaos” Battleground Wisconsin Podcast

We review this week’s lawless and partisan Supreme Court decision overturning Governor Tony Evers’ Safer at Home order and throwing Wisconsin into chaos. We discuss how local governments and their health departments are responding to protect people in their communities and why pressure must now be placed on Republican state legislators to fix their public health disaster. We talk about the new Marquette Law Poll which finds the presidential race in Wisconsin within the margin of error, and partisanship trumping facts in public perception of the pandemic. We also thank Citizen Action co-op member Tricia Zunker for running a strong race in the 7th Congressional District special election and out performing the district in the face of a massive infusion of right-wing cash for her opponent.

Listen Now – Episode #442
Download MP3
Press Clips

Citizen Action Wisconsin is helping protect paychecks & prevent layoffs

Citizen Action has been working hard to offer support to employees and employers through Wisconsin’s unique work sharing program. Work sharing was a program the state of Wisconsin started after the nation’s last recession in 2008. This program allows employers to reduce hours of two or more staff members while letting those employees collect unemployment.

Employees using work sharing are able to work fewer hours, stay on their health insurance and collect unemployment.  Employees are also able to collect the $600 a week federal unemployment passed by Congress as part of the CARES act.  

Please use this link to watch a video explaining this program and to sign up to join one of our twice a week webinars outlining this program.

As part of our COVID19 relief efforts Citizen Action of Wisconsin has been helping sign up businesses to take part in this program.  We has signed up around 20 businesses across the state.  Some of the businesses and non profits we have helped include UW-L Athletic system, the City of Milwaukee Park Department, the La Crosse YWCA and many more.

We have been working with a statewide network of Citizen Action members to get the word out and help as many businesses as possible.  Our statewide action team is meeting every Thursday from 4:00 to 5:30.  

If you know any businesses or employees who could be helped by this program please join us for our weekly team meetings hosted over Zoom.  You can RSVP to join us using this link.  RSVP is required to join.

Addressing Climate & Equity through our Food System

Thursday, May 21st, 6 PM – 7 PM

Join us for a panel discussion to inform citizens and the Milwaukee City-County Task Force on Climate and Economic Equity. The Task Force, created by our Milwaukee City and County governments, will address the inequities in our community with changes that need to be made to address climate change.

Panelists:

  • Bruce Wiggins: City Planner (Retired) – Moderator
  • Deneine Powell: Executive Director, Groundwork Milwaukee
  • David Johnson, MUP: Urban Farmer – Cream City Farms
  • Sylvia N. Wilson, PhD: Program Director, Teens Grow Greens

Panel members will help us explore:

– How does our food system promote climate change?
– How do we change our food system to mitigate climate change?
– What are the food inequities in Milwaukee?
– How do racial and economic inequalities affect health and access to healthy food?
– What can be done to address food insecurity and promote access to healthy food in Milwaukee?

RSVP and register for this event.

For more information check out the facebook event page.

Help Brown County Residents Now!

Brown County has quickly become a center for COVID-19 in Wisconsin. As of Thursday, May 15th the county health department has reported almost 2000 confirmed COVID cases, trailing only Milwaukee County. Even in the midst of this outbreak, organizations like We All Rise African American Resource Center and Casa ALBA Melanie have been serving our black and brown community in Green Bay.

Last Saturday, the Northeast Citizen Action of Wisconsin co-op hosted a COVID-19 relief discussion with several progressive organizations in the Greater Brown County Area.

If you are looking to help support directly impacted communities and have the means to do so, we encourage you to start here:

We All Rise African American Resource Center- Green Bay

The center desires to meet the basic needs of clients while providing a comprehensive set of healing services for our African American community members at no cost to them. Their doors have stayed open during the duration of shelter-in-place and they can use your support. If you can, please support them by donating essential items! You can also donate by visiting their wishlist!  You can also support their work financially by visiting https://bit.ly/3fA8s54.

If you have questions about the center or how you can help, contact Rachel Westenberg at rachel@weallriseaarc.org.

Casa ALBA Melanie- Green Bay

Casa ALBA Melanie is the Hispanic Resource Center of the greater Green Bay area.  Our mission is to nurture the well-being and wholesome development of all members of the Hispanic community living in the region. You can learn how you can support their work directly by visiting https://www.casaalba.org/how-to-help.html and by following their COVID updates here.

Northwestern WI Co-op Host’s First “Kitchen Table Conversation on May 14th

Dr. Rita Simon, Steering Committee Chair and member-leader of the Healthcare Issue team, hosted the co-op’s first “Kitchen Table Conversation.” This event’s topic was about the immediate action we can take around healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Simon shared a powerpoint, video, and information regarding the benefits of Medicare for All during this time of crisis. These events are made for members to invite friends and family interested in the topic to learn more about what they can do to organize and how to get involved with Citizen Action.

Contact breana.stanley@citizenactionwi.org if you’re interested in hosting your own!

Healthcare Co-Op Joins Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul to Defend the ACA

Healthcare Co-Op leader, Zena Blom has personal reasons to defend the ACA but she didn’t just decide to speak out publicly for herself, she was thinking of others who might come after her. People forget what was life before the ACA but if you were personally helped by its passage, you never forget.

Zena testified about one of the most popular features of the ACA which is pre-existing condition protection. Insurance companies used to be able to pick winners and losers in their insurance pool and if you were a person living with any kind of condition or precarious health issue, you were a loser and couldn’t obtain coverage. That changed with the ACA and not only did it change lives, it saved lives and we are not going back.

Recently, President Trump doubled down on his support for the Texas lawsuit which would rip coverage away from 20 million and eliminate Medicaid expansion in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. This just can’t happen and everyday Americans are speaking out about it.  If you want to be more involved please join the Co-Op, your voice is exactly what is needed.

Facebook post of the week

“Supreme Chaos” Battleground Wisconsin Podcast

We review this week’s lawless and partisan Supreme Court decision overturning Governor Tony Evers’ Safer at Home order and throwing Wisconsin into chaos. We discuss how local governments and their health departments are responding to protect people in their communities and why pressure must now be placed on Republican state legislators to fix their public health disaster. We talk about the new Marquette Law Poll which finds the presidential race in Wisconsin within the margin of error, and partisanship trumping facts in public perception of the pandemic. We also thank Citizen Action co-op member Tricia Zunker for running a strong race in the 7th Congressional District special election and out performing the district in the face of a massive infusion of right-wing cash for her opponent.

Listen Now – Episode #442
Download MP3
Press Clips

Links:

Citizen Action Release: Partisan Supreme Court Further Divides Wisconsin When Unity is a Question of Life and Death.
Wisconsin Supreme Court strikes down Tony Evers‘ stay-at-home order that closed businesses, schools to limit spread of coronavirus.
Wisconsin’s stay-at-home order has been overturned by the state Supreme Court; here’s how people are responding.
‘Blatant judicial activism’ as Wisconsin Supreme Court overturns Safer at Home.
Wisconsinites respond to Supreme Court tossing out Safer At Home.
Another 3 million Americans file for unemployment benefits.
New Marquette Law School Poll finds reduced but majority support for COVID-19 restrictions, while partisan divisions increase.
Tiffany wins 7th district by 14 points, less than Trump’s 20-point 2016 wins.
Most Wisconsin Democrats say they plan to vote by mail this year. Most Republicans say they plan to go the polls.

Partisan Supreme Court Further Divides Wisconsin When Unity is a Question of Life and Death

For Immediate Release: May 13, 2020
Contact: Robert Kraig, (414) 322-5324, robert.kraig@citizenactionwi.org

Partisan Supreme Court Further Divides Wisconsin When Unity is a Question of Life and Death

Statewide: The Wisconsin State Supreme Court majority’s divisive and partisan decision late this afternoon, along with the obstructionism of the Legislature, risks making the worst public health threat in a century deadlier and the most severe economic downturn since the Great Depression more catastrophic.

In a major national emergency–a pandemic, a depression, a major war–success depends on elected leaders (including judges) and the public putting aside the divisions of normal politics and pulling together to take effective and decisive action. Wisconsin has a history of doing just this, but the divide-and-conquer politics of the last decade, which have transformed the Wisconsin Supreme Court and the Legislature, is now undermining the political and social unity needed to rise to the challenge.

It was not always this way in Wisconsin. During the Influenza Epidemic of 1918, the only comparable public health emergency, the definitive history concludes that the Badger State achieved a much lower death rate than the national average because of the vigorous and unified response. “Wisconsin was the only state in the nation to meet the crisis with uniform, statewide measures that were unusual both for their aggressiveness and the public’s willingness to comply with them.” The Wisconsin Supreme Court of 1918, in an era with a limited view of the power of government, took no action to obstruct this broad and unprecedented exercise of executive authority.

In stark contrast, the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s deliberation and its decision on the current social distancing directive reveals a divisive brand of partisanship that will both make it much harder for the Governor and the Health Secretary to act, and will further undermine the public unity and social solidarity needed for an effective response.

First, the hyperbolic tone of several conservative justices in the oral arguments undermines public confidence in the process and will likely reduce adherence to social distancing. The justices often sounded more like partisan cable news or AM radio personalities than impartial judges sworn to impartially interpret the law.

Justice Rebecca Bradley claimed the Stay at Home order was “the definition of tyranny,” compared it to the internment of Japanese-American citizens during World War II, and raised the specter of internment centers for victims of COVID-19. Bradley wondered how the order could be constitutional, despite the fact that the Legislature’s case does not question the constitutionality of the order, making the narrow claim that the statute calls for a rule that the Legislature can block.

Second, the Chief Justice resorted to divisive, and arguably coded racial appeals to minimize the threat of the pandemic and further polarize the state.

After being asked if the pandemic was a threat outside Milwaukee, Assistant Attorney General Colin Roth discussed the growth of hotspots elsewhere, citing the rising infection rate in Brown County.  Chief Justice Patience Roggensack shot back: “Due to the meatpacking, though — that’s where Brown County got the flare,” she said.” It wasn’t just the regular folks of Brown County.”

Whether she intended it or not, the separation of workers, many of whom are from immigrant communities, from “regular folks of Brown County” is a classic example of dog whistle strategic racism which is grossly inappropriate for any figure of public or social authority, let alone a Chief Justice. For Roggensack to make such a public statement shows reckless disregard for her office and undermines public confidence in the legitimacy of the judicial branch of government. It also wrongly assumes that the infection of one group of people in the community will not accelerate the pandemic for the entire population. Many of the most dangerous new hot spots in the U.S. are in regions with meat packing plants.

“The reckless ruling threatens Wisconsin’s pandemic response by removing our most effective containment tool in the middle of the crisis and further dividing the state in a way that is likely to reduce compliance with social distance guidelines,” said Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. “This is a nakedly political decision by a majority that has no regard for the plain wording of the law or the unprecedented public health threat we are facing. This decision shows a reckless disregard for the law. As in the lame duck ruling last year, no fair minded person thinks this court majority would have taken this action if the social distancing order came from a Republican governor.“

###

Bill Kaplan: Former U.S. Sen. Johnson fundraiser tried to cash in on COVID-19

Bill Kaplan: Former U.S. Sen. Johnson fundraiser tried to cash in on COVID-19

Photo by Gage Skidmore

The U.S., including Wisconsin, is impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and catastrophic unemployment. Over 1.3 million COVID-19 cases nationally, including over 10,000 in Wisconsin (WI), with near 80,000 deaths nationally, over 400 in WI. “Twenty-five million workers or more could lose employer-based health insurance due to COVID-19 related unemployment” (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation). Moreover, Trump and Wisconsin GOP Senator Ron Johnson are still trying to kill the Affordable Care Act (covers about 22 million) by lawsuit, regulation or repeal.

Johnson claims: “I am the working man”. However, throughout his tenure the millionaire businessman has tried to take health care coverage from hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites. But Johnson says he is a “change agent” and wants to help Trump in “draining the swamp”. What the heck does that mean? After Johnson was elected in 2010 he hired a lobbyist as his first chief of staff (WP). It gets worse.

Until recently, Mike Gula was a top fundraiser for Johnson and other GOP senators. However, the veteran Republican fundraiser abruptly changed course. He formed a company called Blue Flame to sell critically needed masks, ventilators and other medical equipment. Politico reported that Gula “looks to cash in on coronavirus”. Gula’s bio on the company website said: “Since 2009 Gula … has raised over $318,000,000 (eye-opening) for (GOP) House and Senate members … .” Not a word about any background in health care logistics or medical supply. State and local governments, desperate for personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators and other equipment, signed contracts with Blue Flame. But California and Maryland terminated their contracts when Blue Flame failed to deliver. Maryland GOP Governor Larry Hogan asked the state attorney general to investigate. Even the Trump Justice Department has started “a federal criminal investigation” (NYT). It looks like a price gouging-profiteering scheme built on lies.

Trump set the stage for this malfeasance. “In the early days of the pandemic (January), the U.S. government turned down an offer to manufacture millions of N95 masks in America” (WP). Trump and his cronies take no responsibility for PPE and other medical equipment shortages. Trump said: “You know, we’re not a shipping clerk”. And, governors were told don’t call unless they were “appreciative”. It is the “Wild West”, predatory capitalism. No wonder Blue Flame wanted to “cash in”.

Wisconsin Democratic Governor Tony Evers has been trying his best to function in this environment. He said: “Frustration level is high. … The federal government needs to help us … .” Evers put together a public-private state partnership to increase COVID-19 testing, but still needs chemicals and swabs for the tests. Moreover, rural WI is in a tough spot if COVID-19 spreads further. Rural hospitals are “already stretched to a breaking point” (Kaiser Health News). They lack staff, intensive care beds, PPE and other needed equipment. The outbreak in Green Bay should wake up state Republican lawmakers.

Johnson needs to address the corrupt conduct of his former fundraiser. He has not been “draining the swamp” of incompetence, corruption and Trump’s misdeeds.

–Kaplan wrote a guest column from Washington, D.C., for the Wisconsin State Journal from 1995 – 2009.

Citizen Action Weekly: Friday, May 8th

Citizen Action Weekly: Friday, May 8th

Friday, May 8th

Citizen Action launches #WhoCaresForUs?

Watch new video ad.

Americans are stepping up to care for one another during this pandemic. Isn’t it time we had a government #WhoCaresForUs? We need our state leaders to pass new legislation that ensures working people who care for us have the equipment they need to stay safe and that all of us can access the COVID tests and treatment we need to get and stay well. Contact your state legislative representatives 

Vote for Tricia Zunker for 7th Congressional District

Return your absentee Ballot today!

Your absentee ballot needs to be back to your municipal clerk by 8pm on election day. Either mail it back or drop it off with your municipal clerk so it gets there in time.

If you’re voting in person, make sure to take social distancing precautions. Polling places will be open in Congressional District 7 on May 12 from 7am to 8pm. To find your polling place, click here.

If you need additional help locating your absentee ballot or any other information about this election, call the Democratic Party of Wisconsin’s voter assistance hotline at 608-336-3232

To volunteer from home making calls to voters for Tricia contact zoe@citizenactonwi.org

“Politicians, not regular justices” Battleground Wisconsin Podcast

We discuss the damage the coronavirus is reaping, largely unmitigated by the federal government’s response, and the mounting reactionary/corporate pressure on state and local government to court disaster by prematurely scuttling social distancing. We review the shameful Wisconsin Supreme Court public hearing this week in the Vos-Fitzgerald lawsuit against Gov. Evers’ Stay at Home order. The tone and irrationality of the right-wing majority again embarrassed Wisconsin nationally, and revealed to the world a cabal of unethical politicians in robes masquerading as judges. We welcome Citizen Action co-op member Tricia Zunker to talk about her May 12th special election for the 7th Congressional District in Northern Wisconsin. We close with Citizen Action Northcentral WI Co-op steering committee chair Don Dunphy, to discuss the Citizen Action grassroots campaign for Zunker, and the importance of joining a regional co-op to build progressive power.

Learn more and join a Citizen Action’s Organizing Cooperative.

Listen Now – Episode #441
Download MP3

Citizen Action in the News

Executive Director Robert Kraig was on the Jeff Santos Show and discussed how to get a real progressive response to the pandemic. Listen here

Citizen Action has been in the news this week for our work to elect Jill Karofsky to the Wisconsin Supreme Court and to support Citizen Action co-op member Tricia Zunker in her run for Congress in the 7th District Special Election coming up Tuesday.  While we are listed along with all the big spending by corporate interests and right-wing billionaires, it is not really an apples to apples comparison. Whereas big corporations and rich reactionaries like the Koch brothers are corrupting our democracy, Citizen Action is restoring democracy by empowering average people to have a voice and seek a better state and country. By this standard, it is really an apples to poison fruit comparison.

Movement Politics Conversation with Candidates: Health Care

Last Saturday, Citizen Action hosted a Zoom candidate conversation about healthcare. The conversations was led by Health Care for All Director, Claire Zautke and Executive Director Robert Kraig and organized by Movement Politics Director, JoAnna Bautch.

State Legislators and 2020 candidates participated in a conversation on integrating advocacy and policies that support healthcare as a fundamental human right within their campaigns.

This is the first of more conversations with candidates and legislators about healthcare and other important issues. The next candidate Zoom conversation will be about the NEW Race, Class, Narrative Project. It will be on Saturday, May 23rd at 10am. Contact: Joannab@citizenactionwi.org for more information.

Citizen Action’s Movement Politics program develops, prepares, and supports new political leaders that will support people-centered leadership. To learn more, please contact JoAnna Bautch, Movement Politics Director joannab@citizenactionwi.org.

Citizen Action of Wisconsin is helping to prevent layoffs by expanding Wisconsin’s “work sharing” program 

The COVID19 crisis is crippling Wisconsin’s small businesses.  Citizen Action of Wisconsin members has been leading an effort to protect jobs, guarantee paychecks, prevent layoffs, keep people on their health insurance and get people the money they need to make it through this crisis.  We would like YOU to join our efforts.

Wisconsin’s unique “work sharing” program can help people RIGHT NOW!  Work sharing allows businesses and nonprofits to reduce employee hours while keeping those employees on the company health insurance and allowing employees whose hours have been cut to collect prorated unemployment.  This program also allows employees to receive the $600/week in additional unemployment funded by the federal government. For more information on work sharing as well as a video and an FAQ please visit this link.

In order to help families across Wisconsin we need to speak with employers and workers across the state.  You can join our statewide outreach team by joining us for a weekly Zoom call every Thursday at 4:00 PM.  For more information and to RSVP please visit the following link.  You MUST RSVP in order to attend.

If you know of 5-10 people who might be interested in learning more about this program I would be happy to set up a small town hall over Zoom.  Please reply to this email and pick a date/time for the town hall and we can get it set up.

Coffee with your Northeast WI Co-op: Covid-19 Relief, Saturday, May 9th, 10am

Grab your beverage of choice, comfy chair, and join our Citizen Action Co-op for coffee from the comfort of your own home!

Connect with other progressives and learn what Citizen Action is up to as we navigate this challenging time until we can meet at our favorite coffee shop again.

Co-op Organizer Noah Reif will share Citizen Action’s response to COVID-19 and how we can make organize on a local level to this extremely challenging time. If you are involved with another org and COVID-19 relief, feel empowered to share the work you are engaged in so we can support one another. The zoom link will be sent once you RSVP.

RSVP Here

Join us for Northwestern Co-op Virtual Coffee with Your Co-op! May 11, 2020 @ 10:00am 

Brew your favorite caffeinated (or not!) beverage and join your Northwestern Wisconsin Organizer, Breana, as she talks about Citizen Action’s work during the COVID-19 Pandemic and it’s rapid response for affordable and attainable healthcare as well as hearing about what members would like to work on during this time. This would be a great time for brainstorming and strategy building. The Zoom link will be provided via email after you register here for the event! See you then!

Health Care for All Co-Op Covid 19 Town Hall

This past Wednesday, the Co-Op sponsored a Town Hall to talk about how this is the time to push for change and how the pandemic has laid bare the inadequacies of our current healthcare system.

They talked about Citizen Action’s Theory of Change, addressing the 3 Faces of power. And framed the Covid 19 issue within that theory.

We have FIVE ways to be involved right now.

  1. Lobby around Who Cares for us (see above)
  2. Lobby the your Federal Representatives

Reach out to your House Representatives and call on them to co-sponsor the Medicare Crisis Program.

If you need a reminder, here an updated summary of the bill .

Take Action Here

  1. Phone Bank for Tricia Zunker, CD 7 Congressional candidate

Email Karen.Kirsch@citizenactionwi.org

  1. Join the healthcare co-op and officially support us
  2. Listen to our weekly podcast to stay up to date on what is next (see above).

Join Us for a Zoom Call Addressing Climate & Equity through our Food System

Join our Citizen Action Climate Justice team for a panel discussion on May 21th, at 6:00 PM. The Zoom call will inform citizens and the City-County Task Force on Climate and Economic Equity, which has been charged with addressing long standing economic inequities in Milwaukee and what changes we need to be made to address climate change and inequality.

Panel members will help us explore:

  • How does our food system promote climate change?
  • How do we change our food system to mitigate climate change?
  • What are the food inequities in Milwaukee?
  • How do racial and economic inequalities affect health and access to healthy food?
  • What can be done to address food insecurity and promote access to healthy food in Milwaukee?

Click here for more information and to RSVP.

Take Our Survey: Citizen Action of Wisconsin is leading a people powered COVID19 relief effort

Citizen Action of Wisconsin is crafting a response to the COVID19 crisis that will help put money in people’s pockets, reduce unemployment, reduce utility costs, help small businesses, expand healthcare, fight climate change and protect Wisconsin’s green business sectors.

Some of our programs might be able to help you right now!  Please fill out this survey to find out if our programs can help you.  Please feel free to share this survey with anyone struggling during this time.  We would like to get as many people as possible to fill out this survey.

Facebook post of the week

“Politicians, not regular justices” Battleground Wisconsin Podcast

“Politicians, not regular justices” Battleground Wisconsin Podcast

We discuss the damage the coronavirus is reaping, largely unmitigated by the federal government’s response, and the mounting reactionary/corporate pressure on state and local government to court disaster by prematurely scuttling social distancing. We review the shameful Wisconsin Supreme Court public hearing this week in the Vos-Fitzgerald lawsuit against Gov. Evers’ Stay at Home order. The tone and irrationality of the right-wing majority again embarrassed Wisconsin nationally, and revealed to the world a cabal of unethical politicians in robes masquerading as judges. We welcome Citizen Action co-op member Tricia Zunker to talk about her May 12th special election for the 7th Congressional District in Northern Wisconsin. We close with Citizen Action Northcentral WI Co-op steering committee chair Don Dunphy, to discuss the Citizen Action grassroots campaign for Zunker, and the importance of joining a regional co-op to build progressive power.

Listen Now – Episode #441
Download MP3
Press Clips

Learn more and join a Citizen Action’s Organizing Cooperative.

Volunteer from home to help Tricia Zunker contact zoe@citizenactionwi.org

Links:
3.2 Million More Are Out Of Work As Jobless Claims Keep Piling Up.
U.S. Coronavirus Testing Still Falls Short. How’s Your State Doing?
Supreme Court takes up lawsuit seeking to end Evers’ stay-at-home order while economic toll rises.
GOP lawsuit to block Tony Evers’ order to stay home in hands of Supreme Court.
3.2 Million More Are Out Of Work As Jobless Claims Keep Piling Up.
State Meets Only 2 of 6 Criteria for Evers’ Reopening Plan as Cases Approach 9,000.
Local governments plan for all possible outcomes of Wis. Supreme Court ruling on Safer at Home order.
‘Everything is more complicated in Northern Wisconsin’: Voters in 7th district set to go to the polls — again.

Bill Kaplan: COVID-19, the haves and have-nots

Bill Kaplan: COVID-19, the haves and have-nots

The U.S. is a nation of haves and have-nots. On March 6 Trump said: “Anybody that needs a (coronavirus) test can have a test.” A lie. The Washington Post (WP) reported: “Trump’s projection of normalcy relies on special testing. … Trump, Vice-President Pence … are tested regularly, and all who enter the White House campus to meet with them are required to undergo on-site rapid tests … which provide results within 15 minutes.” The optics were so bad that Trump offered Congress access to the same tests. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell jointly said no, asking that the tests be given to “front-line facilities.”

Photo by Gage Skidmore

Because Trump lives in a protected bubble he can’t see the coronavirus carnage. Over 1.1 million cases nationally, including nearly 8,000 cases in Wisconsin (WI), over 66,000 U.S. deaths and about 350 WI deaths. Governors, including WI Democratic Governor Tony Evers, are on their own. Evers put together a “public-private partnership” to increase testing. However, WI is still hamstrung by Trump’s failure to provide necessary chemicals and swabs. And, while Trump orders workers back to JBS meatpacking in Green Bay, they lack protective gear and rapid testing.

Trump is betting his reelection on delusion. He projects an unwarranted optimism, but “days of denial, delays and dysfunction” (WP) can’t hide the economy’s free fall. 30 million nationally, including hundreds of thousands in WI, are unemployed. The NYT reports that the job losses are far worse as many are having trouble applying for unemployment benefits. It took weeks (computer issue) for thousands of WI unemployed to apply and receive emergency federal jobless benefits. Other WI workers, e.g., UW-System, face wage cuts and furloughs.

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic the economy had deep fault lines. Soaring income inequality, wealth concentration, endangered pensions, skyrocketing personal debt and a horrific farm crisis. Trump’s trade wars, compounded by expenses overwhelming farmers’ revenue, led to over 2,000 failed dairy farms. Coronavirus is delivering a knockout blow to America’s Dairyland.

So expectations for congressional relief legislation were high. However, the Trump administration has stumbled badly. First, Trump removed the watchdog of the panel overseeing how coronavirus relief was administered, with predictable results. Less oversight means the haves do just fine while the have-nots are left out. The loan program for small businesses turned into a fiasco. The NYT reported: “Banks gave richest clients ‘concierge treatment’ for pandemic aid”. In contrast, typical small business owners came up empty-handed.

Meanwhile, years of GOP cuts to the IRS budget and antiquated computer systems meant relief payment delays. Millions are still waiting. Some payments won’t be received until 2021! But Trump’s self-promoting signature is on mailed checks. Worse, the relief legislation included a tax break for pass-through income. “82 percent of the benefits … go to about 43,000 taxpayers who earn more than $1 million annually” (WP). What did WI GOP Senator Ron Johnson, champion of reducing pass-through income tax liability, know? The haves are still doing well at the expense of the have-nots.

– Kaplan wrote a guest column from Washington, D.C., for the Wisconsin State Journal from 1995 – 2009.

Citizen Action Weekly: Get Out The Vote for Tricia Zunker

Citizen Action Weekly: Get Out The Vote for Tricia Zunker

Friday, May 1st

Vote from Home for the May 12th Special Election! 

Request your absentee ballot today! You have until Thursday, May 7th to request your absentee ballot online.

Plan ahead for August 11th Primary Election and request your absentee ballot today.

Contact your local leaders and encourage them to plan for safe voting options for voters this August and November, including mailing absentee ballot applications to all voters in your community, similar to what passed in the City of Milwaukee last week. See article about Milwaukee’s plan.

Make Phone Calls from home for Tricia Zunker for Congress
Volunteer virtual phone bank May 4th, 4pm 

Tricia Zunker, Citizen Action NCWI Member is currently running for House of Representatives in Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District! Her special election is on May 12th so we are making a push for our volunteers to make calls to her district encouraging them to vote for Tricia as well as safe practices of how to vote during a pandemic.

Join us on Monday, May 4th, 4pm, as we train you on phone banking, how to talk to voters, and answer any questions regarding Tricia’s platform!

We have staff and volunteers all over the State that are helping to make these calls, and they could be the difference that it takes for us to win!! There are still many people that need help understanding the process to vote absentee.

Sign up here.

Co-op member Marcelia Nicholson became the first Latina and African-American woman elected Chair of the Milwaukee County Board. 

Citizen Action co-op member and Milwaukee County Supervisor Marcelia Nicholson will lead the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors as the new Chair. She was elected last Friday and is the first Latina and African American woman to lead the Board. She is also the third woman to hold the position.

“I thank my colleagues for their support, and I pledge to make the 2020-22 term one that is marked by a renewed spirit of collaboration… I pledge to do my best to empower this body to develop solutions to our most challenging problems and to serve the people of Milwaukee County with honor and integrity.” – Marcelia Nicholson

Supervisor Nicholson is a huge supporter of Citizen Action’s current City/County climate and equity campaign and has led efforts to successfully pass a $15 County living wage ordinance and adopting a County racial equity ordinance.

Nicholson is a former MPS educator and also a current leader in the Milwaukee Area Service and Hospitality Workers Union in Milwaukee.

Congratulations Marcelia! We look forward to working closely with you.

Co-op Member, Kristina Shelton, elected VP of Green Bay School Board

Citizen Action Northeast Co-op member Kristina Shelton was elected vice president of the Green Bay School Board by a vote of 6-1! Shelton is serving out her first full term as a school board member and has demonstrated strong progressive leadership throughout her tenure.

From her work to ban Native Mascots from the Green Bay School District to her collaboration with the district wellness committee to update policy to ensure equity of access to physical activity from kindergarten to twelfth grade. Even during the time of shelter-in-place, she has continued her work advocating for progressive policies and dedicating her time to the families she represents. Kristina was a leading voice in the recent efforts to pass the most comprehensive clean energy at a district level in the state. She has also volunteered her time passing out free meals to district children who would otherwise miss meals due to schools being closed for the remainder of the academic year.

“I’m committed to moving forward with each of you. If we can treat each other well, listen, experiment, hold each other accountable, and fight together, there’s no limit to what we can accomplish.” – Kristina Shelton, Vice President of the Green Bay School Board

Citizen Action of Wisconsin is proud of Kristina and all of our progressive elected officials who serve their communities.

Join us for Northwestern Co-op Virtual Coffee with Your Co-op! May 11, 2020 @ 10:00am 

Brew your favorite caffeinated (or not!) beverage and join your Northwestern Wisconsin Organizer, Breana, as she talks about Citizen Action’s work during the COVID-19 Pandemic and it’s rapid response for affordable and attainable healthcare as well as hearing about what members would like to work on during this time. This would be a great time for brainstorming and strategy building. The Zoom link will be provided via email after you register here for the event! See you then!

Coffee with the Northeastern Co-op: Social Distancing Edition, Saturday, May 2nd, 9:30 AM – 11 AM

Grab your beverage of choice, comfy chair, and join our Citizen Action Northeastern Co-op for coffee from the comfort of your own home! Connect with other progressives from northeastern Wisconsin  and learn what Citizen Action is up to as we navigate this challenging time until we can meet at our favorite coffee shop again.

Co-op organizer Noah Reif will share Citizen Action’s response to COVID-19 and how we can all practice community care. RSVP to noah.reif@citizenactionwi.org to have the Zoom link sent to you.

Citizen Action of Wisconsin is leading a people powered COVID19 relief effort

Citizen Action of Wisconsin  has  been crafting a response to the COVID19 crisis that will help put money in people’s pockets, reduce unemployment, reduce utility costs, help small businesses, expand healthcare, fight climate change and protect Wisconsin’s green business sectors. You can learn more about the relief package we are working on by viewing this PowerPoint.

Some of our programs might be able to help you right now!  Please fill out this survey to find out if our programs can help you.  Please feel free to share this survey with anyone struggling during this time.  We would like to get as many people as possible to fill out this survey.  If someone can be helped by any of these programs Citizen Action of Wisconsin will be reaching out to them directly and getting them the help they need so share this survey far and wide!

Citizen Action in the News

Citizen Action Executive Director Robert Kraig discussed how to move the national Democratic Party left during the pandemic through organizing. Listen here.

Citizen Action’s Robert Kraig joined a panel of scholars from UW-Madison, Michigan State, and Marquette, for a 90 minute discussion of communication in the battleground states. Listen here.

“COVID-19 Hot Zone in Brown County” Battleground Wisconsin Podcast

We review the latest Wisconsin coronavirus news, including the GOP lawsuit seeking to overturn the Governor’s Stay at Home order. Do the Republicans really have a case? The panel welcomes Up North News reporter Jonathon Sadowski to dig into the significant outbreak of COVID-19 in Brown County meat plants, the lax response from the corporate owners and county health officials, and Trump’s order to reopen infected packing plants nationwide. Supreme Court justice Dan Kelly announces he will unrecuse himself on the voter file purge case, and rule despite being fired by the voters. We also encourage everyone to request their absentee ballots for the primary and general elections, and if you live in the district the May 12th special election in the 7th Congressional District.

“Update: JBS in Green Bay announced it is resuming testing of its workers after we recorded this episode.”

Listen Now – Episode#440
Download MP3
Press Clips

Facebook post of the week

“COVID-19 Hot Zone in Brown County” Battleground Wisconsin Podcast

“COVID-19 Hot Zone in Brown County” Battleground Wisconsin Podcast

We review the latest Wisconsin coronavirus news, including the GOP lawsuit seeking to overturn the Governor’s Stay at Home order. Do the Republicans really have a case? The panel welcomes Up North News reporter Jonathon Sadowski to dig into the significant outbreak of COVID-19 in Brown County meat plants, the lax response from the corporate owners and county health officials, and Trump’s order to reopen infected packing plants nationwide. Supreme Court justice Dan Kelly announces he will unrecuse himself on the voter file purge case, and rule despite being fired by the voters. We also encourage everyone to request their absentee ballots for the primary and general elections, and if you live in the district the May 12th special election in the 7th Congressional District.
Listen Now – Episode#440
Download MP3
Press Clips

“Update: JBS in Green Bay announced it is resuming testing of its workers after we recorded this episode.”

Links:
US weekly jobless claims hit 3.84 million, topping 30 million over the last 6 weeks.
More than $290M in unemployment benefits disbursed in Wisconsin since March 15.
Unemployment phone problems persist; full call center staffing increases not expected until May.
Wisconsin coronavirus cases pass 6,500 as state says over 180 outbreaks are tied to nursing homes, other facilities.
Evers orders current budget cuts — but not furloughs. Yet.
Wisconsin Supreme Court ponders lawsuit against Safer at Home order.
Despite 330-plus Linked Cases, Green Bay Meat Plant Has Stopped Testing Employees. The County Has No Plans to Step In.
Some GB meat packing employees say recent safety changes aren’t enough.
OSHA Will Oversee Opening Of Meatpacking Plants Following Trump Order.
Number of positive coronavirus cases at Cudahy’s Smithfield plant ‘not yet known’; 503 employees tested, city says.
Special congressional election plans continue, after DHS reports COVID-19 related cases from last election.
New Poll: Americans Overwhelmingly Support Voting By Mail Amid Pandemic.

Bill Kaplan: Stupidity vs. stay-at-home

Bill Kaplan: Stupidity vs. stay-at-home

Photo by: Gage Skidmore

Nearly a million coronavirus cases nationally, including 5,687 in Wisconsin (WI), over 54,000 U.S. deaths and nearly 300 WI deaths. Dozens of cases linked to in-person voting on April 7 in Milwaukee. And, hundreds of cases confirmed among workers at a JBS meatpacking plant in Green Bay. No zip code is immune.

Meanwhile: “The federal government scrambled Friday to stave off a potential wave of public health emergencies sparked by … Trump’s dangerous suggestion that injecting bleach or other household disinfectants into the body might cure people of the novel coronavirus” (WP).

Does Trump read his intelligence briefings? Back in January 2019, U.S. intelligence agencies said: “We assess that the United States and the world will remain vulnerable to the next flu pandemic or large-scale outbreak of a contagious disease that could lead to massive rates of death and disability, severely affect the world economy, strain international resources …” (WP).

However, Trump is clueless, going from “liberate” (reopen) blue states to publicly criticizing Georgia GOP Governor Brian Kemp for reopening as coronavirus spikes there. The WP reported that Trump is “clear as mud”. Oklahoma GOP Representative Tom Cole has had enough: “You got to have some hope to sell people. But Trump usually sells anger, division and ‘we’re the victim’.” Moreover, Republican governors are showing public health leadership.

Maryland GOP Governor Larry Hogan, head of the bipartisan National Governors Association, said: “Every governor in America has been pushing and fighting … to get more (coronavirus) tests, not only from the federal government, but from every private lab in America and from all across the world.” Hogan, helped by his Korean-American wife, purchased testing kits from South Korea. Testing is central to reopening the economy, along with a decline in new cases, more personal protective and medical equipment, adequate hospital capacity and above all, contact tracing.

Massachusetts GOP Governor Charlie Baker has set aside $44 million to hire 1,000 people to do contact tracing to identify who has been exposed to coronavirus. This is a well-tested public health strategy. “The contact tracers … will inform the contact of approximately when they were exposed, and then take an inventory of symptoms, talk the contact through quarantine requirements, and help (if needed) arrange assistance with food or housing …” (NYT).

Wisconsin Democratic Governor Tony Evers is on the same page as both GOP governors. His “Badger Bounce Back Plan” is a public health (nonpartisan) proposal. Evers has tried to negotiate with the WI GOP-led legislature to invest in contact tracing. One idea advanced by the Journal of the American Medical Association has called for incoming medical students to be hired (pay and medical benefits) to do contact tracing. How about asking the UW-Madison School of Medicine and Medical College of Wisconsin to sign on?

Finally, Jay Timmons, head of the conservative National Association of Manufacturers, had a pungent post for extremist protesters demanding immediate reopening without conditions: “IDIOTS”. Is Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce listening? Doctors, nurses and public health leaders are. Stupidity is not an option.

–Kaplan wrote a guest column from Washington, D.C., for the Wisconsin State Journal from 1995 – 2009.